After Chelsea was completely destroyed by Arsenal not so long ago, you can’t help wondering: were they wrong selling Petr Cech to their rivals? In 2014/15 season Thibaut Courtois replaced Cech as a starting goalkeeper for Chelsea, and Cech not yet ready to continue his career as a backup was sold to Arsenal. This what he said after a season 14/15 spent mostly on the bench:
”Last summer, things changed and I understood I was no longer the first-choice keeper, but I felt it was not the right time for me to go. During the season it became clear that my situation would not improve and, as I know I am not at the stage of my career where I want to be on the bench, I made my decision to move on and look for new challenges.”
You can’t call the most recent derby between current and former Cech’s teams a proper keeper showdown, partly because none of Arsenal goals are Courtois fault, but mostly due to Chelsea’s awful defensive performance. To be fair, I have to mention that similar 1-on-1 situations resulted in a goal for Gunners, while Cech saved his team brilliantly.
Although Chelsea were reminded in the most unpleasant way that Petr Cech is still a top goalkeeper, they acknowledged it themselves by selling him when they couldn’t offer him more than being backup for Courtois. After all those years he spent with the club they owed him at least that and top player like Cech probably picked the strongest team out of those which showed interest in him.
From player’s standpoint it was a great move, because he became unquestionable No1 once again, and with his new club went on to win Golden Glove for the fourth time in his career. However, was it a right move for Chelsea? Benching Cech didn’t hurt their Premier League campaign in 14/15. Courtois performed well, nobody could accuse Jose Mourinho of being unfair in his keeper choice.
Letting Petr Cech go, when you have a talented youngster, who already proven himself, was a good idea regardless of what a terrible year season 15/16 turned out to be. Would one more veteran’s voice in the locker room have made any difference? Probably yes, but not enough to change the overall outcome. Right now, all those speculations don’t change the fact that Courtois is Chelsea’s future.
What I’d like to question is who Cech was sold to. It wasn’t the first time Chelsea’s top player ended up in a rival team, but Frank Lampard and Juan Mata left for Manchester, while Cech stayed in London with Arsenal. I wonder if they couldn’t find an option outside England. Joe Hart’s case shows that there aren’t enough top teams for top goalkeepers to be picky.
Right now Petr Cech could easily have 2-3 more seasons at the top level, so Gunners won’t be looking to replace him during those years. To intentionally keep a player who is still able and eager to play as a reserve, just to prevent your rivals from strengthening their sounds a bit unethical, but totally Jose Mourinho’s style. Luckily, no one could question the integrity of Chelsea’s ex-manager on this and now we all can enjoy stronger Arsenal and subsequently more interesting and competitive Premier League.